John Harbaugh ‘Not At Liberty To Share’ Opinions On Deshaun Watson Suspension, Praises Ravens’ ‘Zero Tolerance’ Policy (Since Ray Rice, Anyway)

The Cleveland Browns eagerly signed up for the circus and backlash that would come with acquiring a quarterback who has been accused of sexual misconduct or assault by dozens of women, in the hopes that Deshaun Watson could be the piece that finally turns their team into a winner—on the field, at least.

Things haven’t gone all that well since then, and they already know that Watson won’t be on the field for them for at least the first six games. If the public had its way—and if the NFL decides to listen to the public—it will be even longer than that before he makes his Browns debut, maybe not even this year.

It’s got people talking, even among those who can’t talk about it, if not just to say that they can’t. That includes the Browns’ divisional rival, the Baltimore Ravens, and their head coach John Harbaugh, who on Monday was asked about the suspension decision by Sue Robinson.

I do have a lot of opinions on it. I’m not at liberty to share them at this time, but that’s for the league to decide”, he told reporters, via the team’s website, before going on to talk about the team’s own policy regarding the issue.

“I respect what [Ravens owner] Steve Bisciotti has created here, and [president emeritus] Dick Cass, really, almost 10 years ago”, he said. “Basically, we’re kind of zero tolerance. You have to know the truth, you have to try to understand the circumstances, but we’ve stayed away from that particular situation. When we draft players, when we sign them as free agents, we just haven’t dealt with it. That’s Steve’s decision, and I’m glad that we have that policy”.

‘Almost 10 years ago’ is about when Ray Rice hit his then-fiancée so hard in an elevator that she was rendered unconscious. He was originally given a two-game suspension before video surfaced of the incident, which showed him dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator.

While Rice was subsequently suspended indefinitely and released by the Ravens, he successfully appealed the suspension by arguing that he was disciplined twice for the same offense. He also successfully sued the Ravens for millions of dollars for backpay that he would have earned based on the original suspension, with the team deciding to settle.

A year after the 2015 lawsuit, he announced that he was donating that money to domestic violence charities. Note, Baltimore did not release Rice until the video surfaced, claiming that they had not seen the video and only heard a “softer” version of the story up to that point.

But of course, this isn’t so much about the Ravens and their past, even if Harbaugh, who drafted Rice in 2008 and was his head coach for his entire career, might not seem like the greatest messenger, nor do they seem to be the best example to use for ‘zero tolerance’ policies for violence against women among their players, given that they were only put in place after one of their players was caught on video knocking his partner unconscious and dragging her limp body out of an elevator.

It’s about the fact that the Browns are treading down an even darker path, with their eyes open, in the name of winning. They have done unprecedented things to acquire him, have invested a tremendous amount, have hitched their wagon to him. Now they effectively see the light at the end of the tunnel, barring public scrutiny. By Week 7 this year, or maybe sometime next year, they’ll finally have their guy, no matter what it costs them—financially or morally.

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